While Samsung has so far had the exclusive contract for flagship OLED iPhone screens, we learned last November that this is set to change – with LG coming on board as a second supplier for the iPhone 12 lineup. LG currently only makes displays for iPhones with LCD screens, along with a small number of OLED ones for older models.
A new report out of Korea claims to have more details and says that LG has received orders for up to 20M OLED screens for this year’s iPhones, with Samsung picking up the remaining 55M orders. If correct, the orders also give some insight into Apple’s expectations for one of the four models expected …
Last year, Apple launched three models, with OLED versus LCD as one of the distinguishing features:
- iPhone 11 (LCD)
- iPhone 11 Pro (OLED)
- iPhone 11 Pro Max (OLED)
This year, we’re expecting four models – two base ones, two pro ones, each in two sizes. While we don’t know any of the names for sure, I’m using here indicative names in line with current models:
- 5.4-inch iPhone 12
- 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max
- 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro
- 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max
All four are reported to have OLED screens, but the Pro models are still expected to have a more sophisticated display. Made by Samsung, and dubbed Y-OCTA, these will eliminate a separate touch sensor layer. This will make for a slightly thinner and clearer display.
Latest report on OLED iPhone screens
The report from Korean site TheElec suggests that LG is picking up most or all orders for the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max, while Samsung gets the rest.
LG Display will supply up to 20 million OLED panels to the iPhone 12 series this year. Samsung Display will produce approximately 55 million units and LG Display will produce approximately 20 million units from approximately 75 million OLED panels in the iPhone 12 series.
In all four types of iPhone 12 series, LG Display produces panels for 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max. The remaining 5.4 inch iPhone 12, 6.1 inch iPhone 12 Pro and 6.7 inch iPhone 12 Pro Max panels are supplied by Samsung Display.
Technically, LG has already broken Samsung’s monopoly on OLED screens as Apple placed small-scale orders last year, but it is believed that LG has so far only made displays for older models. Other reports say LG also makes screens for refurbs of current models, though essentially only as a test-bed to demonstrate capabilities to Apple, rather than at any meaningful volume. Either way, this will be the first time anyone other than Samsung makes OLED screens for flagship models at launch.
Apple has long wanted to reduce its dependence on Samsung for OLED panels, but LG has reportedly struggled to meet both quality and volume requirements. The reported order suggests that Apple is now satisfied the supplier is able to do so.
LG isn’t the only player wanting to take some of Samsung’s business away from it, however. Chinese company BOE has been trying hard to win orders from Apple, going so far as to invest in production lines devoted exclusively to iPhone displays. The report says Apple hasn’t yet approved BOE as an OLED supplier, but the Chinese company will make another bid later.
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